Saturday, October 07, 2006

Defining Ourselves in Today’s Society

What would happen if you no longer had a computer, your favorite pair of jeans, your Blackberry, or your IPOD? In these modern days we use the things around us for functionality, but we also use them to package our identity. The name brand clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the food we buy, the cell phone we use – it all talks about who we are. “Things” are a big part of our lives, to the point that without those things we feel lost. Even the television programs we watch define us. What shows are you talking about around the water cooler, or while waiting in line for your Tall Mocha Latte? Are you a Survivor fan, American Idol, Grey’s Anatomy, or Lost?

The trend is about the things in our lives, and today’s advertising reflects our insatiable need for the next “it” item. When we’re watching television or listening to the radio, we’re bombarded with commercials pitching must have items and selling us that our lives will be less worthy without them. This means, we’re constantly surrounded by a myriad of choices and decisions. Our daily decisions are no longer about hunting and gathering like our ancestors but more about glamour and comfort. Food and shelter are so readily available for most people that we’ve expanded our thinking to more frivolous thoughts. It’s only when tragedy strikes that we get jolted back to reality for a time; events like September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, or the Asian Tsunami. But once we start to feel far removed from these events again, we start to revert back to our single-minded ways.

It’s no wonder that we’re all so tired at the end of the day, our brains are on overdrive taking in each billboard, radio ad, television commercial, and banner ad. And while we’re taking in all that information, our minds are also filtering the “I want” items from the “I don’t want” items.

The “things” are supposed to save us time, make us more comfortable, and make us happier. But, if we’re so busy racing to increase our worth through the things that surround us, Where does that leave us? Are we missing the journey – the magic moments in life, the memories with family and friends that seemingly get lost in the frenetic pace of today’s everyday life? Or are the things that shape our identity really making our lives more fulfilling? Do those “things” bring us closer together? These are questions worth pondering.